PHOTO GALLERY NJPGA SECTION CHAMPIONSHIP
In the past two years, Alex Beach of Ridgewood has established himself as one of the section’s finest assistant pros.
On Thursday, the left-handed golfer who was sixth in the NJSGA Open, took it one step further, winning the 88th New Jersey PGA Professional Championship, shooting a final-round 3-under-par 69 to win by two strokes over Sam Kang of Essex Golf Driving Range at 6,950-yard Plainfield Country Club in Edison.
Beach shot 74-71-69-216 to defeat 2011 champion Kang (75-218) and win $11,100 of the total purse of $76,000. Pat Fillian of Echo Lake (71-218) and Daniel Kinn of Acushnet Company (73-218) tied for third.
The top 11 finishers gained entry into the 2017 PGA Professional Championship in June. Beach also won an NJPGA major in 2015, the Fall Finale.
“Yes, it’s the biggest thing I’ve won,” said Beach, 27, who has won the previous two NJPGA Assistants Professional Championships, both at Plainfield. He also won two other events on the PGA schedule this summer, the Pro-Assistant with David Reasoner of Ridgewood and the Pro-Pro with Kang.
“I came into this championship with confidence. I love this golf course. I’ve had success here before,” said Beach, a native of Stillwater, Minn., who graduated the PGM program at the University of Nebraska, but did not play on the golf team there.
“It’s about managing this golf course. I finally got some putts to go in for me today.”
It is doubtful Beach will ever forget his final round. He started with bogey, double-bogey, and fell behind by four shots, yet rallied with eight birdies over the final 15 holes, including the clincher on No. 18 when he was still deadlocked with Kang.
“It was a grind. It was one of those rounds you had to stay in mentally. I never thought I’d be standing in front of the crowd , holding the (John Clancy) trophy,” Beach said.
Beach three-putted No. 17 for a bogey after carding birdies on holes 14, 15 and 16. On the 407-yard No. 18, his drive found the right rough, 115 yards from the hole.
He considered it fortunate:
“I knew what I had to do. It was lying in a divot which helped me take the spin off the ball. I put a good swing on it.”
That shot landed three feet from the cup to set up a birdie that gave him a one-stroke lead at the time over Kang, who was playing two groups behind Beach.
Kang came into 18 needing a birdie to tie Beach, but his drive found the fescue on the left side of the fairway. He overplayed his shot which landed over the green. He settled for a bogey and a runner-up finish.
“For the most part of this event I hit the ball really well. Today I hit a few putts that didn’t go in, just getting the edges,” said Kang, 36. “I made a couple of mistakes which cost me. On No. 9, I was 85 yards from the pin, but I didn’t get it high enough on the green and it spun back down the hill and I had to settle for a bogey.”